Spotlight Series: All About Penne Pasta

Spotlight Series: All About Penne Pasta

Penne pasta is one of the most popular pasta shapes out there. You probably have a box or five in your pantry right now! Loved across Italy and the world over, this pasta just might have you wondering “What is penne pasta?” We’ve got the scoop.

There is more to the beloved cylinder-shaped pasta than you know. Versatile, elegant and ready to capture any number of sauces, penne is undeniably one of the most recognizable pasta shapes in the world, second only to spaghetti. Penne pasta has a distinct shape: a hollow middle, angled ends and outer ridges. These characteristics make penne rigate an incredible sauce-scooping pasta and a versatile pasta shape that shines in so many creations. From rich meat sauces and chunky tomato sauces to cheesy pasta pasta recipes and cold picnic pasta salads, penne rigate is ready to take on nearly any pasta recipe.

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DeLallo Penne Rigate: Fast Facts

  • Category: Tubular Pasta
  • Meaning: The word "penne" in Italian refers to a type of pasta that is shaped like a narrow tube or cylinder with ridges on its surface. The term "penne" is derived from the Italian word "penna," which means "quill" or "feather," and the shape of the pasta resembles the tip of a quill or a cut feather.
  • Cook Time: 10 to 11 minutes
  • Place Of Origin: Genoa in the Liguria region of Italy
  • Main Ingredients: Durum wheat, mineral water
  • Alternative Names: Penne Regate (ridged) Penne Lisce (smooth), Mostaccioli
  • Possible Substitutes: Fusilli, Rigatoni, Gemelli, Ziti, Cavatappi

What Is Penne Pasta?

Penne pasta is one of the most popular pasta shapes in the world, nearly as famous as the beloved spaghetti noodle. The term “penne” can refer to more than one tube-shaped noodle. Penne rigate, often just called “penne,” is a cylinder-shaped pasta characterized by its diagonally cut ends and ridges that run along its outer surface. Penne is said to resemble a quill, or pen, hence the name “penne.” Penne lisce is a smooth penne pasta variation with the same angled ends, but without the ridges. There is also mezze penne, which is a larger variation. Penne pasta is made with simply durum wheat flour and water. Penne pasta is great at capturing sauces and so are very handy in the kitchen. Penne pasta recipes range from pasta salads to cheesy baked pasta dishes to pasta dishes that feature vibrant tomato sauces.

Penne Pasta Types

There are two types of penne pasta with angled ends: penne rigate and penne lisce. Penne rigate features grooves that look like lines running the length of each noodle. Penne lisce is also tube-shaped with angled ends, but it is a smooth penne noodle. There are no ridges or grooves on the outer surface of penne lisce. The textured exterior of penne rigate gives it an edge against its smooth penne relatives. The grooves are perfect for capturing sauces, which adds to the flavor of every bite.

The Origin Of Penne And And Its Brief History

There is some debate over where penne pasta originated. While some say penne comes from Genoa, of the Liguria region, while others claim penne pasta is a product of Southern Italy.

How Is Penne Pasta Made And What Is It Made Of?

Penne pasta is made with durum wheat flour (semolina flour) and water. Pasta dough is kneaded and then extruded through dies to create its shape. Once shaped, pasta is dried and packaged. DeLallo utilizes artisanal methods of pasta making that contribute to a superior Italian pasta. We use artisanal bronze dies that give the surface area more of a texture. This heightens the pasta’s ability to capture sauces. We also dry our pasta slowly at low temperatures. Using heat for either step is quicker, but it cooks out the pasta’s flavor.

How To Cook Penne Pasta

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. We recommend 5 quarts of water for 1 pound of pasta. You can make the water as salty as you’d like—this is your chance to season the pasta. Always check the pasta’s package for instructions, but cooking pasta is not an exact science. DeLallo Penne Rigate cooks in 10-12 minutes, but be sure to check for doneness before you reach the cook time on the package. No one likes mushy, overcooked pasta. Once it is cooked al dente and before draining your noodles, reserve a cup of that starchy hot pasta cooking water for combining your sauce and pasta in the pan together. Only rinse penne pasta if you are making cold pasta salad. Never add oil.

The Best Penne Pasta - The Delallo Difference

As experts in all things Italian and all things pasta, DeLallo boasts an unforgettable Italian Penne Rigate made with top-quality ingredients, artisanal methods of production and generations of pasta-making experience. From the superior durum wheat and its careful milling to the use of bronze dies to extrude the pasta and slow drying at low temperatures, pasta-making is more than food production, but an art.

The Best Sauces For Penne Pasta

Penne pasta is a versatile pasta cut and shines in a myriad of creations. In Italy, penne pasta dishes usually consist of heavier meat ragùs and chunkier tomato sauces. Some of the most celebrated Italian penne pasta recipes include Penne alla Vodka, a creamy tomato sauce with a slight kick, and Arrabbiata of Southern Italy, a super spicy tomato sauce. While it is not typical in Italy for penne pasta to be paired with seafood sauces or light cream sauces, these are not out of the question. We also recommend trying it in baked pasta dishes, as well as summer pasta salads. There isn’t much penne rigate can’t do!

Penne Pasta Substitutes

If you’re looking for a substitute for penne pasta, try Ziti, Rigatoni or Tortiglioni. These are all cylinder-shaped short cuts of pasta that are great at capturing sauces. Depending on your recipe, there are other short cuts that will work such as fusilli, gemelli and cavatappi.

Penne Pasta Recipes And Usage Ideas

View our roundup of Penne Rigate recipes here, below are some of our faves!

Delallo Penne Pasta: FAQ

How Do I Pronounce “Penne”?

Penne is pronounced PEH-neh.

What Shape Is Penne Pasta?

Penne pasta is a type of tube pasta. Penne is cylinder shaped with angled ends. This is where it gets its name, as it is said to be “pen” shaped.

What Is Another Name For Penne Pasta?

Mostaccioli is another name for smooth penne pasta known as penne lisce.

What Does “Penne” Mean?

Penne pasta is named for its quill, or pen, shape. Penne rigate is “pen with ridges,” referring to its outer ridges running along the length of each noodle.

How Much Penne Should I Cook Per Person?

2 ounces of dry pasta per person is a good rule of thumb to follow.

What Is A Serving Size Of Penne Pasta?

2 ounces

Penne Pasta Vs Ziti Pasta - What Is The Difference?

What most people think of as “penne” is actually called penne rigate: a tube-shaped pasta with angled edges and outer ridges. Ziti is also tubular, but with straight-cut ends and no ridges. Classically, ziti is known for showing up in cheesy baked pasta dishes, where penne rigate is featured more in traditional pasta dishes like Penne alla Vodka and Penne Arrabbiata, from Southern Italy.

Penne Pasta Vs Rigatoni - What Is The Difference?

Both penne rigate and rigatoni are tube-shaped pasta cuts with outer ridges. Penne has distinct angled ends (cut diagonally), where rigatoni has straight-cut ends. Rigatoni noodles are shorter than penne pasta, but thicker in diameter with larger hollows. Both pasta cuts are known in Italy for their role in hearty meat saucs. Rigatoni is best known for its feature in Bolognese.

Where To Buy Delallo Penne Pasta?

Order DeLallo Penne Rigate online or find it at most major supermarkets across the country.